“Some gon’, betray you; and some gon’, be loyal.”

With an album title and lead song (second track on the album) named “Loyalty and Betrayal” you would think Earl ‘E-40′ Stevens had something serious on his mind. For those who know 40 for his party anthems though fear not; there’s more good shit on here. For those who like his “parkin’ lot pimpin,” that’s in here too. The original timah is on the clock and punches in for the new season with a dictionary of slang and an album designed to rattle your trunk.

On a side-note about this album, longtime E-40 partner Bosko is in the house for four tracks; and you’ll notice from reading the liner notes that his newest production company is WWW.BOMBAY2K.COM. Since he went to this much trouble to get his URL laced into the album somewhere, we felt obliged to sprinkle some game on it. Ya under dig?

Bosko keeps up his rep with the filthy dirty bassline of “Lace Me Up,” a year 2000 duet between E-40 and Suga-T. The Clickalations between these two make them theTRUE Bonnie and Clyde of hip-hop. Suga hasn’t always been known for tight lyrics but she goes toe to toe with Fonzarelli on this one and scores at LEAST a draw.

“But let me put you up on these schemes females practice
Screw you real good and steal the money underneath the mattress
You got to be an actress it’s conniving and cunning
We fake orgasms, and make ’em think we coming”

Now that’s game! 40 is unfadeable though, as he proves on “Sinister Mob” – the first of his two duets with Nate Dogg. You may be shocked by Nate’s damn near Bone Thuggish flow, but it’s Earl who scores the most points on Don Juan’s beat.

“I dropped a C-note, didn’t miss it
A little skank from the other side picked it up and kissed it
like {*SMAK*} good luck you deserve it and you makin it
Even though, my boyfriend dem be hatin it
I’m a top cat, them cats is mouses
I sport ice, cost mo’ than nigga’s houses”

This album is definitely game-orienfested, like a true 40 Fonzarelli album should be. Listeners need not apologize for hearing him spit about broads, cars, and making money – cause few in the game on either coast do it near as well. Earl comes extra tough on this album though by spitting a lesson to new jack rappers called “To Whom it May Concern” which is as tight musically as it is lyrically.

“I know you’re shinin like a light
I know your record sales is politics and hype
I know you’re boo-hoo’n
cause none of your royalty statements
never had a check attached to ’em
Famous but unrecouped, circumstances predicated on
large-ass video budgets, and takin out advancements
March and September, that’s quite a ways – 40, 40?
Oh he get paid every thirty days shorty!”

Within his teachings about getting your deal right and keeping your money tight, he also spits a little something extra for the people sleeping on his skills. It’s so damn real that this review contains a rare DOUBLE QUOTE from the same song just so people can feel it.

“My loyal fans wanna know why it’s so noticeable
How come none of E-40 lyrics
ever been in The Source ‘Hip-Hop Quotable’?
To tell the truth, it’s kinda irkin me; cause I don’t know
I ain’t rappin too fast, see y’all just listenin too slow!”

True indeed. I promise you potnah, if you like that Bay Area sound with fat beats, true playalistic game, and next level lyricism, E-40’s got it all for you. The lead single “Nah, Nah…” with Nate Dogg is the perfect example – guaranteed to start the party or bounce the Impala either way. There are anthems throughout though – “Pop Ya Collar” with The Click, “Clown Wit It” with Mystikal, and solo joints such as the Bosko produced “Like a Jungle” and Rick Rock’s orchestral “It’s Pimpin’.” The only song which seems truly misguided is the Ice Cube duet “Behind Gates.” Even though Cube is a legend in his own right, his current rap style is a decade behind Earl’s rapid-fire perkalations on wax and O’Shea ends up sounding like he’s humming deez nuts; even though the track is smooth.

It’s simple really. If you are a betrayer who used to like E-40 but stepped to the side, you’re gonna miss this one. If you stayed loyal, this album will be your true reward. 40’s right though – he should be the Hip-Hop Quotable and recognized coast to coast as a pioneer. When will he be? As long as he keeps the music and lyrics tight, it don’t matter. Like an Iron Chef of the Bay, 40 can serve you up a dozen or more delicious courses in an hour’s time. Eat up!

E-40 :: Loyalty and Betrayal
8Overall Score